Our Value Added
Colors of Connection’s co-founders developed a unique arts-based approach to address two primary gaps in services within the international humanitarian aid and development sector for conflict-affected individuals and communities.
These unmet needs are:
- Psychosocial support for people who have been affected by violent conflict on a mass scale
- Agency and self-representation for people who have been stripped of these human rights, both through violent conflict, and through post-conflict settings where there is an imbalance of power between international humanitarian actors providing basic services, and the populations who require them.
We are filling these gaps by investing directly in the psychological and social development of individuals and communities with a collaborative bottom-up approach that promotes healing, self-determination, dignity, and civic engagement.
Our approach cuts across multiple disciplines including:
- mental health
- gender equality
This enables us to align our work with multiple UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
CC projects do not target participants with mental illness. However, due to the post-conflict nature of the environments where we work, many participants have experienced trauma of various and sometimes multiple kinds. Our therapeutic activities can help participants process and externalize the trauma, and the social nature of the projects can reduce isolation and encourage solidarity among participants.
CC’s curriculum and project model of arts-based psychosocial activities, designed specifically for the post-conflict context, is contributing to growth in this sector. We have built a repertoire of activities in art education and art therapy that are adapted to these particular contexts, and take into account particular challenges around illiteracy, cultural and language specificities, trauma, age, and gender.
Since 2015, we have begun to incorporate activities into our projects that utilize creativity to support and protect adolescent girls, using a positive and solution-based approach that is focused on building concrete knowledge, skills, and resources. Adolescent girls have been increasingly recognized as an important key sub-group in the fight for gender equality. CC is actively involved in the Adolescent Girl and Creativity Network (AGCN) at the Population Council, and the Coalition for Adolescent Girls.
Creative activities are not commonly viewed as being essential to peacebuilding, yet the arts are uniquely positioned to nurture certain capacities in individuals and communities that are needed to rebuild communities. For example, cultivating empathy for each other’s suffering.
CC contributes to the process of peacebuilding in the following ways:
> Transforming identities, helping individuals and groups to move from an identity focused on the survival of conflict toward a new identity focused on a more positive future and different reality
> Creating a safe space for individuals and communities
> Instilling a sense of agency and empowerment in communities that are in the process of rebuilding
> A modality of healing from conflict specifically in treating trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder
Colors of Connection is committed to grounding our work in the most up-to-date and emerging research, while also serving to translate practical knowledge from the field into evidence-based research theories/frameworks through collaboration and partnership with scholars and researchers in academia.